This evening’s Copa America final is all set up for a Brazil victory.
At least, that’s the opinion of a certain Lionel Messi, who’s own tournament has been rife with controversy, scathing remarks and perhaps a pang of regret.
While the forward has enjoyed untold success at club level with Barcelona, it’s been nothing but heartache when he’s played for his national team.
Having made his debut for Argentina in 2005, the only success he’s had so far is an Olympic Gold Medal in 2008. All the while, he’s watched his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo win the European Championship and Nations League with Portugal.
Even Neymar’s won the Confederations Cup.
Argentina were knocked out of this summer’s Copa America by Brazil in the semi-final in a lacklustre display, and will surely watch their old rivals lift the trophy in the final against Peru on Sunday.
After that game, Messi had been adamant that the referee was biased towards the host nation, hinting that a number of decisions went against his side and was particularly aggrieved that Argentina were not awarded a penalty.
He said: “They were not better than us. They found the net early and the second goal came from a penalty they didn’t award.
“The officiating was crazy. There were clear penalties, on Nicolas Otamendi, on Sergio Aguero.
“He [the referee] was on their side. In every divided ball or dispute, he inclined the pitch their way. It’s not an excuse, but the truth is that, in this Copa, they kept on blowing for stupid things, for handballs, penalties. But today, they didn’t even go to VAR when there were clear plays that should have been looked at.”
No doubt these comments irked the South American football confederation, and were the talk of the town ahead of Argentina’s third-place play-off game with Chile.
And in rather spectacular fashion, Messi was sent off towards the end of the first half following a confrontation with the former Cardiff midfielder Gary Medel, who also saw red.
It’s fair to say that Messi was perhaps a little hard done by, as the Chile defender appeared to push his head towards the Argentina No.10.
Take a look.
Nevertheless Argentina won 2-1, although Messi refused to take part in the medal ceremony after the game and suggested in a post-match interview that he had been singled out following his comments about the officiating in their defeat to Brazil.
Messi said: “We don’t need to be part of the corruption that we’ve suffered at this tournament.
“Medel is always right at the limit. With a yellow that would have been the end of it for both of us, but well, maybe what I said recently had an impact.
“What’s important is that the team finished well in the tournament. Maybe this was ordered and I ended up suffering because of what I said.”
Amazingly, this was only the second red card of Messi’s career, the first also coming while playing for Argentina on his debut against Hungary in 2005.
In the meantime, Messi’s wait for success with his national side continues, although he maybe buoyed by the fact that Argentina host the tournament next year.
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